Making People Fail: Failing to Learning in Games and Making

Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Games+Learning+Society Conference


ETC Press


Madison, WI

Publication Date


First Page


Last Page



In traditional formal learning environments, students typically have two options: succeed or fail. Though there may be real world merit to this type high-stakes system, we suggest that there is more to learning than a simple dichotomous outcome. In this paper, we leverage two areas of educational reform, games and making, to demonstrate a need to broaden our definition of failure and reconceptualize it as an integral part of the learning process. Rather than stigmatizing failure as a detrimental endpoint to learning, we discuss how these domains (games and making) expect and design for failure as part of the mastery process. We offer implications for learning and assessment with the hope of sparking a conversation among policymakers, educators, and designers of learning environments.

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